Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
“He can guess, but he won’t ever know, not really. What it was like, what she was thinking, everything she’d never told him.”
― Celeste Ng, Everything I Never Told You
Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.
So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos.
A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering how mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.
This story starts with the reader finding out about the death of the favorite child, Lydia. I assumed it would just be an emotional book about finding the cause of death, but I was wrong, but somehow also right. This book is beyond what I was first expecting, and it branches off in so many directions as we follow the family before and after the death of Lydia. This book truly hit the nail on the head with the title. It focuses on each family member and their hopes, fears, and dreams. Showing us so many parts of their lives where they never voiced their emotions but should have. Celeste Ng showed the reader the consequences of them not doing so.
Additionally, this book is set in the 1970s and deals with both race identity and gender identity. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I finished the audiobook in a day, and it has stuck with me for several weeks now. I recommend this to anyone looking for a “hit you in the feels” type of read.